Countering Xenophobia, London Pro-Refugee Demonstration Looks to be Huge
On Saturday, September 12, a rally will be held in London to show support for refugees escaping conflict and arriving in Europe.
Two days ago, 30,000 people were expected to attend.
By yesterday, the count of registered attendees reached 62,000.
This morning, as I began writing this post, 80,000 people had committed to attend the demonstration. By the time I finished this post, the number had ticked up another thousand.
This is not just a feel-good expression of support. It’s not just about charity. It’s a political demonstration promoting specific policies to ease the passage of refugees into Europe and to make Europe more structurally welcoming. From the demonstration’s statement of purpose:
“On September 14th, Theresa May will be attending a meeting of the EU’s 28 member states for emergency talks on Europe’s escalating refugee crisis. It is vital that she takes with her the conviction that the British people that she represents are open to helping refugees and that we can’t continue to allow thousands to die trying to reach the EU and their legal right to claim asylum. We have to ensure that refugees can reach Europe safely. There needs to be either official safe transport provided, or if people could apply for asylum from outside the EU they would be able to enter by official routes. We need to prioritise the fast processing of asylum claims from people from particularly dangerous regions, such as Syria. We can’t allow any EU countries to close their borders or build fences. There needs to be Europe-wide consensus on providing help where it is so desperately needed, relieving pressure on the Mediterranean countries.”
This is a rally promoting a politics of empathy. It is exactly what the world needs to counter the practice of politics by war. If you live in the UK, I hope you’ll find a way to be in London on September 12.